Don’t be scared, let’s populate and prosper, Daily Telegraph, 20 March 2014
If there’s one thing that’s really big in the population size debate, it’s the size of the scare campaigns made by both sides. One side tells us that a big Australia is a ‘catastrophe’, while the other says that slow population growth will hurt share prices and drive up debt.
Australians comprise just one in 300 of the world’s population. We have the third-lowest population density of any country. Only Mongolia and Namibia have fewer people per hectare than Australia. Yet we also have one of the highest urbanisation rates. Nearly nine in ten Australians live in urban areas.
An unusual feature of the Australia’s population debate is how much it is sparked by population projections. This is especially odd given the record of past projections. In 1888, the Daily Telegraph predicted that the population in 1988 would be 60 million. The Australian Treasury recently updated its population forecast for the 2040s from 26 million to 35 million.
I spoke in parliament on the government’s failure to turn a G20 growth aspiration into a clear plan for prosperity.
MPI – G20, 26 February 2014
I congratulate the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development on his decade-old diggings, but I am happy to assure the House that I, like all members on this side, do not support a GP tax. The aspiration set by the Treasurer for an additional 0.4 per cent growth per year over the next five years is a perfectly reasonable aspiration, and nobody in this parliament would disagree with it, but an aspiration is not a plan.
There are two very clear plans for growth on offer in this parliament. This side of the parliament believes that growth is driven by investment, by education and by fairness. That side of the parliament believes it is driven by cuts, cuts and cuts—cutting infrastructure, cutting services and cutting wages.
Joining a cycle of doorstops at Parliament House this morning, I spoke to reporters about the Group 20 Financial Ministers Communique that commits leaders to boosting GDP. Ultimately the success of the G20 in Australia will be judged around tangible results including job creation.
TRANSCRIPT, DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT HOUSE
MONDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2014
SUBJECT/S: G20 growth target; multinational profit shifting and tax; Manus Island; Craig Thomson; Sydney’s second airport
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION: We’ve seen the headline recommendation coming out of the weekend G20 meetings as being a two per cent growth boost. Now, no one can object to that. Two per cent more growth is of course a good thing. But, an aspiration is not a plan. And from Joe Hockey, what we’re getting is hints of a set of policies that are going to cut into growth at the same time that he aspires to more growth. If I came out here and told you that I’d like my running times to be two per cent faster, but I was going to sell my jogging shoes and sack my jogging partner, you’d have reason to doubt me. So, when Joe Hockey tells you that he’s going to boost Australia’s growth rate but he’s not going to build the NBN, not build urban rail, hacking into school funding and Trades Training Centres – and potentially demand driven universities – Australians have a right to ask ‘well, how serious are you are you about this growth target?’
The other thing we saw out of the G20 was a proposal to move on multinational profit-shifting. It’s essentially the same proposal that Wayne Swan and David Bradbury took to last year’s G20. But three-quarters of a billion dollars has been dropped from it because the Government wasn’t willing to go hard on multinational profit-shifting. So that’s $700 million, around the cost of a new hospital, which has got to be made up for in service cuts or tax increases. The Government is walking away from good moves on multinational profit shifting and they’re walking back on transparency of multinational tax paid, which has really got to leave you asking the question, ‘how serious are they about making sure that all companies pay their fair share of tax?’
I appeared on ABC Lateline with host Emma Alberici and Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne to discuss the Coalition’s hide-and-seek game with their policies, how their announced policies will disproportionately benefit the top 1%, naval bases and Labor’s plan to invest in productivity through infrastructure and education.
A transcript (thanks to Lateline) is over the fold.
On MixCanberra this morning, Liberal candidate Zed Seselja and I discussed optimism and talking with kids, kangaroos and roadside signs, Miley Cyrus and high-speed rail, and which Canberra agency will be forcibly relocated to the Central Coast if the Liberals win. Unfortunately, we didn’t get an answer on all these issues, but here’s a podcast.
Chris Manchester, Wendy Tuckerman, Michael Pilbrow, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Rowena Abbey, Geoff Kettle & John Shaw
I spoke in parliament yesterday about the need to make the Barton Highway safer, ahead of a meeting the PM had with mayors and Labor candidate for Hume Michael Pilbrow.
Barton Highway, 3 June 2013
Last week there was a head-on crash on the Barton Highway, between Yass and Murrumbateman. The drivers of both cars were hospitalised with critical injuries, and the single-carriageway highway was closed in both directions for several hours.
Thankfully, this incident did not claim any lives; unlike a similar head-on collision in February this year in which one of the motorists, an ACT resident, was tragically killed.
The Barton Highway is a part of the national highway system and a key link between Canberra and the national grid, and it is unacceptable that it remains so dangerous. The risks are only going to increase as traffic volumes build, because the Yass valley area is one of the fastest growing regions in New South Wales. For example, Murrumbateman has grown from having a population of around 350 in 1984 to some 3,000 today.
On ABC702 yesterday, I enjoyed a conversation with host Richard Glover and guests Dick Smith and Malcolm Turnbull, ranging from carbon pricing to urban congestion, parliamentary roles to economic growth, helicopter travel to books that make you cry. Here’s a podcast.
I spoke today about the federal government actions that have made a positive difference in my electorate of Fraser.
Appropriations Bills, 12 February 2013
There are several old chestnuts the Liberals can be relied on to trot out every election year, and one of those that we hear so often in the ACT is the line, ‘Labor ignores Canberra’—the suggestion that somehow Labor governments take Canberra for granted. But, unfortunately for the Liberals, the people of Fraser are a clever bunch. They are able to see through this line easily, because it is so demonstrably false. The investments that this Labor government has made in Fraser are visible everywhere, from the Majura Parkway to the National Broadband Network rolling out and the many schools enjoying new facilities thanks to the Building the Education Revolution program.
In fact, if you were to take the time to visit all of the sites where Labor has invested in my electorate of Fraser, you would be taking a pretty comprehensive tour of Canberra’s north. I can even provide you with a loose itinerary. You can set off from the flourishing suburb of Braddon, where my electorate office is located and where Minister for Human Services Kim Carr and I opened a one-stop shop for Medicare and Centrelink in October last year. The co-location of these facilities is a core part of Labor’s service delivery reforms. It is making access to housing, health, crisis support, education and training, and family and financial support easier for Canberrans.
I spoke in parliament today about the importance of good fiscal management.
Matter of Public Importance – Fiscal Policy, 5 February 2013
It is a pleasure to rise today to speak on an important issue of economic management. When we talk about the importance of good budget management it is important to remember one simple fact: if the tax-to-GDP ratio today were the same as it had been under the Howard government then the budget would be strongly in surplus.
Dr Emerson: By more than $20 billion.
Dr LEIGH: By more than $20 billion, I am informed by the minister. But if the tax-to-GDP ratio under the Howard government had been what it is today then many of their budgets would have been in deficit. That is a simple fact which those opposite cannot deny. Driving things at the moment are two big factors. First of all, mineral prices have softened, and that has brought down corporate revenue. Second, the Australian dollar remains high. Why does the Australian dollar remain high? Because Europe is underperforming. With Europe underperforming, investors are looking around the world to where they can find AAA-rated government debt. And they are finding it in Australia, one of the few countries that maintains that AAA rating. Despite the fact that minerals prices are coming off, the Australian dollar remains high. So this double-whammy hits revenues, and this is reason revenues for 2012-13 are $20 billion down from what Treasury projected in 2010.
Yesterday, Anthony Albanese, Katy Gallagher and I announced that Fulton Hogan won the contract to build the Majura Parkway. It’s the largest road investment in the Australian Capital Territory and I am delighted the Gillard Government invested $144 million to match the ACT Government contribution in recognition of the necessity of the Parkway for families and businesses. It’s something I’d been pushing for since before I entered Parliament.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
Minister for Territory and Municipal Services
Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser
FULTON HOGAN AWARDED CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT FOR $288 MILLION MAJURA PARKWAY
With the awarding today of the construction contract to Fulton Hogan, work on the $288 million Majura Parkway project will soon commence. Tenders for the construction of Majura Parkway were called on 26 May 2012 and closed 31 July 2012.
“I’m pleased to announce Fulton Hogan as the successful company to undertake the construction of the Majura Parkway,” Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, said today. “This signifies the next step in this critical road infrastructure project which will deliver 11.5 kilometres of dual carriageway connecting the Federal Highway through to the Monaro Highway.
The Hansard from the parliament’s biannual quizzing of the National Capital Authority became available today. For the benefit of Campbell residents who are interested in Development Application 74, I’ve pasted below the answers to my questions. The full transcript is available here.
I spoke today about the issue of aircraft noise, responding to a private member’s motion moved by Judi Moylan.
Air Services (Aircraft Noise) Amendment Bill 2011
18 June 2012
I rise to speak on the Air Services (Aircraft Noise) Amendment Bill 2011 to highlight a range of government initiatives significantly improving aircraft noise management around Australia’s airports. I do so as a member with the Canberra airport in my electorate. In rising, I acknowledge the hard work being done by the Canberra airport to minimise the impact of aircraft noise on the surrounding suburbs. As a father of two little boys who enjoy looking up in the sky and seeing aeroplanes flying overhead, I am aware that my views on aircraft are probably different from those of many of my constituents who, while aircraft noise is not as severe in Canberra as in other cities, do note the impact of aircraft. I am in ongoing conversations with Canberra airport to make sure the impact of aircraft noise on Canberrans is minimised.
I called today for Canberrans to ‘dob in a Black Spot’.
30 May 2012
Andrew Leigh MP
Federal Member for Fraser
IDENTIFYING BLACK SPOTS IN THE ACT
Each year, the ACT Black Spot consultative panel allocates over $1 million of Australian Government funding to make local roads safer. Safety measures include better line markings, upgraded traffic signals and improved lighting.
Chair of the ACT Black Spots Consultative Panel, Andrew Leigh, is again calling for Canberrans to suggest hazardous locations that require attention.
We’re calling for tenders to build the Majura Parkway, funded 50/50 by the federal and ACT governments. Media release below.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister
Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser Katy Gallagher
ACT Chief Minister
Minister for Territory and Municipal Services
MAJURA PARKWAY: CONSTRUCTION TENDER CALLED
From 26 May construction companies interested in building the new Majura Parkway – the Territory’s largest ever road project – will have two months in which to submit their best bids under the tender process to be conducted by the ACT Government.
I welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP that the Gillard Labor Government is providing $500,000 to the ACT Government as part of the Liveable Cities Program to help ‘Realise the Capital’ in our great city.
The media release is below.
MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT
THE HON ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
MEMBER FOR FRASER
ANDREW LEIGH MP
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
Gillard Government Support Plan for More Liveable Capital
I’m pleased to announce that Canberra will soon be home to an innovative project showcasing the best in urban design, planning and renewal, funded as part of our efforts to make the nation’s major cities more productive, sustainable and liveable.
The Gillard Labor Government is providing $500,000 to the ACT Government for a major planning project to unlock the potential of the city’s CBD and better integrate it with public transport, residential buildings, surrounding parklands and ANU and CIT campuses.
The Canberra community will be invited to provide input into the masterplan – Realising the Capital in the City – which will become a blueprint to encourage people to visit, live and invest in the CBD.
I have an opinion piece in the Canberra Times today on the benefits of electric cars.
Driving a clean, green future, Canberra Times, 3 April 2012
Last month another charge spot was added to Canberra’s growing charge network. In addition to their charge locations at the Belconnen Markets, National Convention Centre, and Crowne Plaza, Better Place opened a new spot at the Novotel Hotel on Northbourne Avenue. Across the ACT there are now 14 charge spot locations.
Electric cars have the potential to benefit Australia’s economy, health and environment. With global oil prices steadily creeping upwards (due to growing demand in China and other emerging economies), average Australians are now paying over $1.40 per litre for unleaded petrol.
Road Safety Remuneration (Consequential Amendments and Related Provisions) Bill 2012
13 March 2012
We have all seen horrific images of fatal motor vehicle accidents, the twisted and torn remains of cars, the spray of shattered glass that marks the sites and that look of shock, anguish and disbelief on people’s faces. Every death that occurs on the roads is not just the tragic loss of one person’s life. Rather, it spreads ripples right through the community. It is children who grow up without a parent; it is family birthday celebrations without an aunt or an uncle; it is the distinctive laugh of a friend no longer heard at Friday night drinks. That is why the Road Safety Remuneration Bill 2011 and the Road Safety Remuneration (Consequential Amendments and Related Provisions) Bill 2011 are so important. These bills address the heartbreaking loss and tragedy of the road toll and its far-reaching cost to the nation.
The initial stages for the Majura Parkway are now underway and ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and I invite Canberrans to have their say on the proposed design.
Our media release is copied below.
Drop-in session to showcase proposed design of Majura Parkway
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Federal Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, have invited Canberrans to attend a drop-in information session next week to view the proposed design and alignment of Majura Parkway.
“Drop-in information sessions will be held from 4:00pm to 7:00pm on Thursday 23 and Friday 24 February 2012 at the Ainslie Football Club,” Mr Leigh said.
Putting a figure on inequality adds to strength of statistical spotlight, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 December 2011
New numbers are to the press as shiny bottle caps are to magpies. Statistics have the power to shape a debate or provide oxygen to an issue. From a major bank’s survey of consumer confidence to a political party’s targeted release of ”internal polling”, numbers are often used to bring publicity to a company or a cause. When even condom manufacturers use surveys to get publicity, you know what the new maxim must be: statistics sell.
With the Herald/Lateral Economics Wellbeing Index, Fairfax has shone a statistical spotlight onto the issue of wellbeing. This is good. As all economics students learn on their first day of class, economics is about maximising utility, not money.
Noting the absence of bike racks near my office on 1 Torrens Street, I wrote to the ACT Government to ask whether they’d consider installing one. This week, I received a letter from Simon Corbell, saying that they’ll be putting a bike rack nearby. So if you’re coming to an event or meeting in my office, you’ll soon be able to lock up your bike close by.
One of the jobs I most enjoy is chairing the ACT Black Spots consultative panel. The Black Spots program uses federal money to fix dangerous corners and intersections, with the proviso that we can’t approve a project unless the public benefit is at least twice as big as the cost of doing the road work.
We’ve just announced eight new sites where work will be done, totaling $1.1 million (which means that the public benefit is at least $2.2 million).
intersection of Drakeford Drive, Summerland Circuit and O’Halloran Circuit at Kambah: $210,000 to upgrade traffic signals, provide additional pedestrian lighting and replace existing poles;
intersection of Hindmarsh Drive, Athllon Drive and Callam Street at Phillip: $187,800 to install traffic signal mast arms;
intersection of Tharwa Drive, Box Hill Avenue and Woodcock Drive at Conder: $63,000 for visibility enhancements, including improved directional signage, improved hazard signage and upgraded street lighting;
intersection of College Street and Haydon Drive at Bruce: $310,000 for improvements to the pavement surface and traffic signals; upgrade of existing light columns; and improvements to kerb, sign and line marking;
intersection of Southern Cross Drive and Kingsford Smith Drive at Belconnen: $161,800 to install traffic signal mast arms;
intersection of William Hovell Drive and Bindubi Street at Belconnen: $120,200 to install traffic signal mast arms;
intersection of Coppins Crossing Road and William Hovell Drive at Belconnen: $52,600 to reduce speed limit on William Hovell Drive; and
intersection of Girrawheen Street and Limestone Avenue at Braddon: $21,400 to move the limit lines forward to be flush with Limestone Avenue.
Thanks to all the members of the public who nominated sites for consideration. We’re continuing our work, so please keep those nominations coming in to me – by mail, phone or email.
Terrific news today that the Majura Parkway is going to be funded, in a 50/50 split between the federal and ACT governments. This is something I’ve been pushing for since before I entered parliament, and I’m delighted to see it’s now going to become a reality.
Here’s the joint media release from federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese and ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher:
FORTY YEAR MAJURA PARKWAY VISION SET TO BECOME A REALITY
More than 40 years after the first line appeared on a map, construction of the long awaited Majura Parkway will finally start next year and be completed in 2016.
I joined an ABC 666 forum in Gungahlin library last Friday, speaking with Louise Maher and guests Alan Kerlin, Rhonda Daniels and Tony Gill about infrastructure and social capital. You can podcast the discussion here.